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Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Monday, April 23, 2007

SEC Commissioner Atkins on Competitiveness of US Markets

Excerpts from Remarks Before the Security Traders Association of New York 71st Annual Conference by Commissioner Paul S. Atkins, April 19, 2007:

[Discussing the three recent studies on U.S. Capital Markets' Loss of Competitive Edge] Although the perspectives and findings of each group were unique, there is a common thread of very important SEC-related issues among them. Among other things, each report recommended: (1) quick and substantial changes to the rules and guidance implementing section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, (2) streamlined and coordinated regulatory processes that require meaningful cost benefit analyses, and (3) involvement jointly by the President's Working Group (which is made up of the Secretary of the Treasury and the chairmen of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the SEC, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) to provide transparency and predictability in the enforcement process.

We at the SEC cannot and should not ignore these findings and recommendations. We must recognize and understand how the markets have evolved when we consider whether our weighty regulatory precedent still makes sense. We need to ask ourselves a question that Secretary Paulson has recently posed: "Have we struck the right balance between investor protection and market competitiveness - a balance that assures investors the system is sound and trustworthy, and also gives companies the flexibility to compete, innovate, and respond to changes in the global economy?" The reports can help us answer this question.

I believe that the Commission is duty-bound to analyze, understand, and -- if warranted -- respond to each recommendation that pertains to us. Unfortunately, a coalition of contrarians -- we can call it the "What-me-worry?" Crowd -- has recently begun a campaign to mute the calls for action in the three reports. As I understand it, they contend that the U.S. capital markets are perfectly fine and that there is little haste needed to examine the calibration of our regulations and how we implement them.

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